Antedatings of "toddy" and "julep" (in the same book)

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 17 21:35:35 UTC 2013



Toddy was originally palm-tree sap or the intoxicating liquor when fermented (OED sense 1: tarry, 1609; taddy, 1611; toddy, 1620).

More familiarly, it later became a drink of spirits, water and sugar (OED sense 2: 1786). OED says the water is hot, but this wasn't always necessarily the case.

Here's some antedatings of the mixed drink. All Google Books links are full views.


Published in 1784, volume 1 of John Ferdinand Smyth's A Tour in the United States of America describes the life of the rich man in Virginia, who drinks a cool toddy of water, sugar, rum and nutmeg:

To give an idea of the manner in which a white man spends his time in this country, a description is necessary of each degree in life.

The gentleman of fortune rises about nine o'clock; … He then lies down on a pallat, on the floor, in the coolest room in the house, in his shirt and trousers only, with a negro at his head, and another at his feet, to fan him, and keep off the flies; between twelve and one he takes a draught of bombo, or toddy, a liquor composed of water, sugar, rum, and nutmeg, which is made weak, and kept cool; he dines between two and three, and at every table, whatever else there may be, a ham and greens or cabbage, is always a standing dish; at dinner he drinks cyder, toddy, punch, port, claret, and madeira, which is generally excellent here; having drank some few glasses of wine after dinner, he returns to his pallat, with his two blacks to fan him, and continues to drink toddy, or sangaree, all the afternoon; he does not always drink tea; between nine and ten in the evening, he eats a light supper of milk and fruit, or wine, sugar, and fruit, &c. and almost immediately retires to bed,!
  for the night; in which, if it be not furnished with musketoe curtains, he is generally so molested with the heat, and harrassed and tormented with those pernicious insects the musketoes, that he receives very little refreshment from sleep.
(Here's a biography of Smyth:,_John_Ferdinand_Smyth_(DNB00) )


This book was mentioned and extracted in a number of several magazines in 1784, the earliest "The Gentleman's and London Magazine, for June, 1784" saying the book was "just published" .

"The London Review, and Literary Journal, for September, 1784" didn't like the book ("Praise undeserv'd is satire in disguise") but commented on the toddy recipe: "Wonderful discovery!"


The Whitby Spy (No. 8, Saturday, September 25th. 1784) published a poem about air balloons (introduced: "THE attention of public curiosity has of late been engrossed by what are called Air Balloons, (invented by our volatile Gallic neighbours) in so great a degree, as to interrupt even the discussion of political disputes, and suspend every other common topick of conversation.") that mention a toddy of rum, water and sugar:

MIDST the most furious of Tornados,
In my Balloon I left Barbadoes,
Exactly at the hour of noon,
Upon a journey to the Moon.
In this Balloon I had for prog,
A barbecu'd West-Indian hog;
And least the voyage should make me glum
I there too stow'd some fine old rum;
And water like a careful body,
With sugar mix'd to make me toddy,
For I had heard he never shrinks
At any thing, who stoutly drinks;
And if aloft it should be colder,
This self-same rum would make me bolder.


Briefly, here's a September 1785 "caution against the use of TODDY". Although the writer admits some men have drunk toddy for years by "limiting its strength", "measuring the spirit and water", and "drinking it only with their meals", it's clearly a gateway dram to grog; to "slings, made of equal parts of rum and water, with a little sugar"; "from slings he advanced to raw rum -- and from common rum to Jamaica spirits"; and then to throwing "a table-spoonful of ground pepper into each glass of his spirits"; before dying "a martyr to his intemperance".

You have been warned.


In "Reports of the Humane Society: Instituted in 1774, for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned for the Years M.DCC.LXXXII and M.DCC.LXXXIV" (1783 and 1784) is a copy of a letter dated 23 July 1784 about an incident that happened on 20 June 1783, when a 17-year-old was found floating in a pool of water. After warming the boy up, the writer, Mr. Alexander Davis, a surgeon of Neath, Glamorganshire, Wales, wrote:

I ... boldly ventured to give him a little gin toddy warm, which brought on a fine perspiration…

Now, this doesn't give the ingredients, but it is very unlikely to be OED sense 1: fermented palm sap (palm trees are few and far between in south Wales), and more likely sense 2, as the OED says: "Often distinguished by prefixing the name of the chief ingredient, as brandy-toddy, gin-toddy, rum-toddy,whisky-toddy."



Julep was originally a sweet drink: liquid sweetened with syrup or sugar for taking medicine; or a medicated drink or "gently stimulating mixture" (OED sense 1.a: c1400). It's figuratively "something to cool or assuage the heat of passion, etc." (OED sense 1.b: a1640).

The more familiar is the "mixture of brandy, whisky, or other spirit, with sugar and ice and some flavouring, usually mint" (OED sense 2: 1804).

Here's antedatings of the mixed drink.

However bad The London Review thought his book, John Ferdinand Smyth's A Tour in the United States of America (1784) again provides an antedating, and just a page on from "toddy". The lower and middle classes drink a julap of rum, water and sugar:

The lower, and many of the middling classes, live very differently. A man in this line rises in the morning about six o'clock; he then drinks a julap, made of rum, water, and sugar, but very strong; then he walks, or more generally rides, round his plantation, views all his stock, and all his crop, breakfasts about ten o'clock, on cold turkey, cold meat, fried homminy, toast and cyder, ham, bread and butter, tea, coffee, or chocolate, which last, however, is seldom tasted but by the women; the rest of the day he spends much in the fame manner before described in a man of the first rank, only cyder supplies the place of wine at dinner, and he eats no supper; they never even think of it. The women very seldom drink tea in the afternoon; the men never.


A later publication, "The Edinburgh Magazine, or Literary Miscellany, For October, 1789", prints a "Description of the Back Settlements in Virginia -- From the same.", dated "Charlottesville Jan 20 1779". (The preceding article is "Description of the Country beyond the Delaware, and of the Sect [?] called Dumplers*", "Lancaster, in Pensylvania, 16th December 1778" "*From Travels through the interior parts of America")

Is it attributing this to "Lancaster" or is it anonymous? Anyway, it's almost the same account of a Virginia plantation owner's day so likely to be Smyth's work:

… drinks what he calls a julep, which is a large glass of rum, sweetened with sugar, …

The same man: "about twelve or one he drinks toddy, to create him an appetite for his dinner" and about five "commonly drinks toddy 'till bed-time", but it doesn't tell us what toddy is.



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